HOLLYWOOD AND THE DEVIL
By Brad Steiger
We are certain that many readers of UFO DIGEST are aware that scary horror movies and spooky television series are hotter than ever. As an author of over 180 books on the paranormal and the strange and unknown, I am often asked if it is true that a number of Hollywood stars have a great attraction to Satanism or if there are prominent actors who are active Satanists.
First, we must be cautious in defining Satanism and in suggesting certain Hollywood stars who may be–or have been– practicing Satanists. Satanism is a religion composed of a few small groups, which according to census figures in the United States and Canada, probably number less than 10,000 members.
Satanism preaches indulgence in personal pleasure and claims to offer a counterculture alternative to the civil and religious establishments, but none of the Satanic cults, such as the Church of Satan or the Temple of Set, worship a Satan that commands demons and seduces human souls into Hell. To these cultists, Satan represents a force of nature that inspires their own individual expressions of virility and sexuality.
Anton Szandor LaVey established The Church of Satan in 1966, but there are many kinds of free-form Satanism, mostly symptomatic of sexual unrest and moral rebellion.
There are also those individuals who, for a time, dabble in the occult, ceremonial magick, and other freelance rituals and who may declare themselves as Satanists. These individuals are essentially faddists, generally inspired by a current motion picture or television series that popularizes Satanism or Witchcraft, and their interest in Satanism is very short-lived.
Such religious cults as Santeria, Wicca, Voodoo, and various neo-pagan groups are often incorrectly identified as satanic, and it has been suggested by some that the statistics quoted by certain Christian evangelists, warning of millions of Satan worshippers, quite likely include all non-Christian religions as satanic, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.
Satan and the Black Arts have greatly intrigued filmmakers since the days of silent films. The devil has been a featured player in motion pictures since the earliest days of the cinema, beginning with Georges Melies’ Cabinet de Mephistopheles in 1897.
The ancient tale of Faust, in which the satanic figure of Mephistopheles tempts the alchemist Dr. Faustus, was first filmed in 1900 with at least six subsequent versions until the Emil Jannings’ definitive portrayal in 1925. (In 1967, Andreas Teuber assumed the role of Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus with Richard Burton playing Faust.)
Rex Ingram, the director of such major films as the 1921 version of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, starring Valentino, was fascinated with Aleister Crowley, the notorious magician, who was self-dubbed “the wickedest man in the world” and claimed to be an expression of “666,” the Antichrist. Rumors have persisted since the 1950s, that Crowley lived in Pasadena long enough in the 1920s to have founded a black magic coven, whose membership remains active. Some researchers insist that Charles Manson, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan (the assassin of Robert Kennedy), and Richard (“Night Stalker”) Ramirez were initiates of this coven.
Rudolph Valentino relied on advice from his spirit guide Meselope, and Rudy’s wife, Natacha Rambova, was a spirit medium, who channeled The Great Lover himself after his death in 1926. Mae West wrote many scripts directed by spirit control while in a trance. Peter Sellers was an outspoken advocate of spirit guidance.
Lee Marvin, Susan Strasberg, John Travolta, Linda Evans, Elke Sommer, Clint Walker, Lindsay Wagner, Sylvester Stallone, Ernest Borgnine, Ann Miller, Glenn Ford, Tina Turner, Robin Williams, Gary Busey, Willie Nelson, and, of course, Shirley MacLaine are only a few of the many Hollywood celebrities who have had mystical experiences and who have become spiritual seekers. But surely, one could not interpret their interest in the so-called supernatural to be in any way “satanic.”
At the same time, many paranormal researchers have found evidence that negative and demonic entities are preternaturally attracted to Hollywood and its environs.
Well-known actors who have impersonated Satan for motion pictures include Adolphe Menjou in The Sorrows of Satan (1927); Walter Huston in All That Money Can Buy (1941), based on the Stephen Vincent Benet short story, “The Devil and Daniel Webster” and later reissued under that title; Rex Ingram in Cabin in the Sky (1943); Laird Cregar in Heaven Can Wait (1943); Cedric Hardwicke in Bait (1954); Claude Rains in Angel Over My Shoulder (1946); Vincent Price in The Story of Mankind (1957); Ray Walston in Damn Yankees, (1958); Lon Chaney Jr. in The Devil’s Messenger (1962); Donald Pleasance in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965); Vittorio Gassman in The Devil in Love (1967); Peter Cook in Bedazzled (1967); Ralph Richardson in Tales from the Crypt (1971); Joseph Cotten in The Devil’s Daughter (1973); Bill Cosby in The Devil and Max Devlin (1981); Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick (1987); Robert De Niro in Angel Heart (1987); Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate (1997); Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled (2000); Harvey Keitel in Little Nicky (2000); Ian Holm in Simon Magus (2000) and Gabriel Byrne in End of Days (2000).
There have been numerous motion pictures depicting devil worship and Satanism. Among the better ones are The Black Cat(1934) with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi; The Seventh Victim (1943) with Kim Hunter and Hugh Beaumont; Night [Curse] of the Demon (1957) with Dana Andrews and Nial MacGinnis; Eye of the Devil (1966) with David Niven and Deborah Kerr; The Devil’s Own (1966) with Joan Fontaine; The Devil Rides Out [The Devil’s Bride] (1968) with Christopher Lee; Rosemary’s Baby (1968) with Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes; The Ninth Gate (1999) with Johnny Depp and Frank Langella; Bless the Child (2000) with Kim Basinger; Lost Souls (2000) with Winona Ryder and Ben Chapin.
In the vast majority of the films listed above, Satan and/or his followers are defeated or thwarted by the forces of good. Rosemary’s Baby was the first highly popular film to leave audiences gasping at the devil’s triumph.
Anton La Vey believed that “The Satanic Age” began about the year 1966 and that Rosemary’s Baby was a significant precursor of many such films to come. The Roman Catholic Legion of Decency gave Rosemary’s Baby a “C” (condemned) rating when it was released in 1968 because of its “perverted use …of fundamental Christian beliefs, especially the events surrounding the birth of Christ, and its mockery of religious persons and practices….”
When I spoke with Anton La Vey after the release of Rosemary’s Baby, he said that he was enormously pleased with the impact of the film on theater audiences. He felt confident that people would get the message that in order to achieve material gain, to avenge themselves on enemies, to secure the favors of reluctant lovers, or to achieve other worldly benefits, they should make deals with the devil. La Vey predicted a great many new horror films that would reveal that apparently “nice” people often reveal themselves to be the devil’s disciples, actively working to further the cause of the Prince of Darkness, and that most of the films ended on a note of triumph for evil, rather than for the forces of good.
“Rosemary’s Baby, was a good beginning,” La Vey said, “but it wasn’t as explicit as the public could have been fed. They are not quite ready to see the devil turn out to be the hero and ride off into the sunset with the white hat. Of course, that is the inevitable end result, but it has to be approached gradually, so that now what you see in many films is an impasse where evil is not really defeated.”
At the time we spoke, La Vey was particularly pleased with The Devil’s Daughter, a 1972 made-for-television production starring Joseph Cotton.
“This movie was great for Satanists,” La Vey explained, “for Cotton, a supposedly saintly attorney, turns out to be the devil in the end. This is excellent. It shows that all those people who appeared to be such good folks were really the Satanists. And this, of course, is the way it really is. The nice couple next door or that executive whom you think is Mr. Nice Guy is a Satanist. The kindly doctor you know or the guy who runs the boys’ club or the little league happens to be a satanic priest. This is the way it really is.”
Ironically, Roman Polanski, the director-husband of actress Sharon Tate, was a bemused skeptic who doubted the reality of the supernatural.
In 1968, he completed Rosemary’s Baby, a film about a woman who is deceived into giving birth to the Antichrist. Based on the novel by Ira Levin, the motion picture boasted a superb cast, including Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, and Sidney Blackmer.
Polanksi said in interviews that he had never considered the possibility that contemporary Satanism could exist outside the pages of a screenplay or a book. In fact, he admitted that his sole research for the film had been to examine one volume on the subject in order to obtain the symbols to be painted on Mia Farrow’s nude body for the scene in which Satan impregnates her.
On August 8, 1969, Polanski’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was viciously murdered by assailants who were obeying the instructions of Charles Manson, a man who declared himself to be the Antichrist. Abigail Folger, 26, had been stabbed in the chest and other parts of her body. Wojeciech Frykowski, 37, had been stabbed and shot. Jay Sebring and Tate had been stabbed repeatedly and were linked by a white nylon rope that had been tied about their necks and extended over an exposed beam in the ceiling of the living room. A black hood covered Sebring’s head. Immediate pressure was leveled at the authorities to learn the identity of the killer or killers, and as the investigation got under way, a number of disturbing things were unearthed.
When Jay Sebring’s car was found to contain various drugs and torture implements, stories began to leak out about the kind of parties Sharon Tate’s crowd liked to give.
As one of the peripheral members of the group told it: “The beginning of the party could be just like the normal-type party given anywhere in Hollywood, but then, around 1 A.M.–or whenever the ‘straights’ went home–Jay would bring out his goodies. That’s when the real party would begin.”
According to certain individuals who claimed to have been participants in some of the parties, Jay’s “goodies” generally included both hallucinogenic and hard drugs, as well as artifacts associated with satanic rites. Once, according to informants, Jay had even thrown a Lucifer party in which all the guests came dressed in black and were told to utter specific incantations as they entered the house. The very instances under which the bodies of Jay and Sharon were found appeared to indicate the influence of black magic on the murderers.
Whether or not Joan Crawford dabbled in Satanism, it seems that her home somehow became a center for demonic negativity. Sherry and I visited the Crawford home after mysterious fires had broken out repeatedly in the master bedroom. The current owners of the house had called in the Reverend Rosalyn Bruyere of the Healing Light Center to exorcise the house. Rev. Bruyere found many spirits in the house and picked up that at one time there had been strange rituals conducted in the home.
Christina Crawford, Joan’s adopted daughter, told us that Joan’s relationship with men was extremely violent. Christina said that she had always seen and felt strange things in the home: “Now, evidently, the walls are starting to catch fire! Other people have heard children’s cries in the walls! Every single owner has had trouble. The first one was Crawford. She built the majority of the house. It was a small cottage when she bought it, but most of the house, she built. Every single family that has lived in that house has had horrible things happen.”
Christina said that the last words that Joan Crawford uttered were to a woman who was kneeling at the foot of her bed, praying for her. “As she was dying,” Christina said, “Crawford opened her eyes and said directly to the woman, ‘Don’t you dare ask God to help me!’ . . . and then she died.”
It was such arrogance, Christina said, that she believes is a major part of the difficulty with the seemingly accursed house. “She was capable of real evil,” she said . “If you have never experienced that look from another human being, it is almost impossible to believe that such an experience could even exist! I think perhaps that’s why so many people are unwilling to deal with the shadow side because they can’t really get themselves to believe that such a dimension exists. My brother and I were absolutely terrified of her. In fact, there is a passage in Mommie Dearest that describes ‘the look‘ on her face when she tried to kill me when I was thirteen. We all saw that look. My brother and I talked about it extensively. . . it was not of an ordinary human being!”
Although Jayne Mansfield is the Hollywood star most associated in the popular mind with the Church of Satan, Bob Slatzer told Sherry and me that Anton La Vey once caused Marilyn Monroe’s spirit form to materialize. Slatzer, who had briefly been married to Monroe, met Anton La Vey and his wife at the home of a movie studio publicity man. During their conversation, he learned that La Vey was fascinated with Marilyn Monroe.
La Vey believed that about every eleven years astrologically, a cycle would repeat itself and the “dark of moon” would come back on Saturday, August the 4th, just as in 1962 when Marilyn had died.
La Vey needed some one who knew Marilyn very well to help manifest her. Bob agreed to La Vey’s making all the arrangements and picking him up about 10:30 P.M. La Vey had received permission from the then-current owner of Marilyn’s home to be there. Although she would be closing the gate, they were welcome to sit in the cul-de-sac.
Bob told us that he clearly recalled sitting in the front seat on the passenger’s side with Anton; La Vey’s wife was in the backseat. Anton had a tape recorder with prerecorded songs from Marilyn’s films. “At about 11:45 P.M.,” Bob said, “La Vey began reading something he had written. It was sort of like tongues or a chant or something. I didn’t recognize it. About 12:15 A.M., the night was still. Not one single blade of grass was moving. All of a sudden, a terrific wind came up! It seemed as if we were in a hurricane for three or four minutes, yet nothing else on either side of the road was moving.”
Then from out of nowhere the figure of a woman appeared in front of them. Bob Slatzer said it was as if somebody set her there. She had on white slacks with a little black-and-white, splash-pattern top, little white loafers, and 1 could see a shock of blond hair. She started walking toward the car. The woman was highly recognizable as Marilyn Monroe! Anton’s wife had practically turned white and looked almost petrified!
Marilyn hesitated for a minute, her hands clasped. It didn’t appear that she was looking directly at the car, but she seemed to be looking at an angle past them. Then she turned to her left and slowly started to walk down the middle of the boulevard. La Vey appeared as if he was frozen and stuck in a fixed position.
Slatzer saw that the spirit of Marilyn Monroe was about three-fourths of the way down the street. He got out of the car and walked as fast and as quietly as he could. When he was about 150 feet away from her, she turned, and as she turned, walked to the middle of the street– and vanished into thin air.
Those who knew Jayne Mansfield insist that she never became a Satanist. Some friends say that she was merely curious about its philosophy. Others state that she came to embrace its doctrines in order to curse her former husband, Matt Climber, and to ensure her receiving custody of her fifth child, Antonio.
According to a friend, it was in November 1966 that Jayne and her boyfriend, Sam Brody, drove with a press agent to the black magic cathedral home of Anton La Vey. Her friends say Jayne merely went to talk with the black magician and to view his satanic home. Others claim that the actress went to La Vey to ask his help in strengthening her career.
The only agreement among friends and witnesses centers upon the intense dislike that Brody and La Vey expressed for one another. One account has it that the satanic High Priest displayed two human skulls and a chalice with the warning that anyone who touched them would die. Brody laughed at the malediction and touched the artifacts, defying La Vey, who supposedly told Brody that he was doomed and demanded that he, Jayne, and the publicist leave the satanic church at once.
We know that Jayne and Brody did return. Some say that they did so in an effort to placate the High Priest of Darkness. Others assert that the actress was hungry for publicity and knew that La Vey always got extensive press coverage for his antics. The occasion for their return visit, states one account, was to allow Jayne to pose with Anton La Vey for a photo layout as an act of propitiation for Brody’s sacrilege.
La Vey brought out his two sacred skulls, a silver chalice, and a “demon weapon.” He asked that Jayne pose in her trademark bikini, but she refused and wore a dress. She did, however, with the High Priest’s permission, pose with the fateful objects in her hands.
Brody had been opposed to Jayne’s posing with La Vey, but he promised to be on his best behavior. Then, according to one account, he began to fondle the holy statue of a naked woman that stood at the altar of the satanic church. When La Vey commanded him to cease, Brody sneered and blew out several black votive candles that surrounded the statue.
Infuriated, La Vey proclaim that because Brody had angered Satan with his acts of disrespect and that he would die within a year. Then, as Jayne’s friend May Mann remembers it, La Vey turned to the actress and warned her that if she continued her relationship with Brody, she, too, could face a tragic and sudden death.
Although Brody and Jayne made the decision to blow the curse off and to divert their attention from the malediction by enjoying a good dinner at La Scala, it was on that night that the first of their narrow escapes in a car occurred. On the way home from the restaurant, they were hit by another car and the Mansfield vehicle was totally demolished. Brody and Jayne barely escaped with their lives.
About a month later, Jayne’s five-year- old son, Zoltan, accompanied her to Jungleland in the suburb of Thousand Oaks, where she had agreed to pose for publicity photos. While she looked on in horror, a so-called tame lion suddenly and without provocation jumped on Zoltan and began to maul the child.
As the boy underwent several emergency surgeries and his life hung on a perilously fragile thread, Jayne, according to detective Milo Speriglio, flew to San Francisco to plead with La Vey for Satan’s intervention to save her dying son. Zoltan survived, and it is said that the actress credited the miracle to Satan and asked La Vey’ s forgiveness for Brody’s blasphemy.
Her pleas apparently were not heard. On June 27, on U.S. Highway 90, Sam Brody and Jayne Mansfield were killed in a car accident. Three of Jayne’s children, asleep in the backseat, escaped with minor injuries.
Jayne was not decapitated, as legend has the account of her death, but her long blond wig was torn from her head and the first look of the officers who arrived on the tragic scene misjudged the injuries.
Spirit guides, ascended masters, secret doctrines, astrological charts, ghosts, and Ouija boards are as much a part of Hollywood in 2015 as they were in the 1920s, but none of these attempts to place meaning to one‘s life should be considered Satanic.
Mediumship, arcane teachings, tarot cards, and visionary experiences have always been fashionable among the citizens of the Hollywood hills. The physical, mental, and emotional stresses of trying to make it in the movies or television, plus an actor’s own sensitive nature, may result in supernatural experiences that can more than equal on-camera fantasies.